Area banks helped customers at the end of the year by paying estimated property taxes. The taxes were paid for mortgage customers who chose to escrow property with each payment.
Normally, a mortgage holder will pay property taxes when those taxes come due. The mortgage holder may also escrow home insurance premiums, if the lender chooses. Each year, the mortgage holder can adjust the monthly mortgage to reflect any changes in taxes or insurance premiums or allow the mortgagee to pay the difference and keep the monthly or bi-weekly mortgage amount the same from year to year.
Terre Haute Savings Bank, Fifth Third Bank and First State Bank all paid property taxes for their Clay County customers who escrowed property tax payments. Those customers will be able to possibly take deductions for property tax payments when they file individual income tax returns. Property owners should consult a tax expert to see if they are eligible.
However, First National Bank and Trust paid property taxes for "a large percentage" of its customers, said Vice President Ron Henry on Wednesday. Henry did not know why property taxes for all customers were not paid by the Dec. 31 deadline, but bank customers can call the bank branch to determine if their taxes were paid by the end of 2003, Henry said.
Riddell National Bank declined to comment.
"Our payment of escrowed property taxes will benefit our customers as well as county government," said THSB Senior Vice President/Commercial Loan Officer Jeff Stewart in a press release. "By paying the taxes before year's end, our customers can take the tax deduction this year, and counties where our customers reside will have access to the funds immediately, rather than in February or March."
Due to tax reassessment, property tax bills are arriving later than usual and some haven't arrived at all, ihncluding Clay County.
If your household is worried about the effects of the property tax increase for 2003, THSB has some simple suggestions for you to consider:
1. Verify you have a mortgage exemption. Your tax statement will indicate whether you have a mortgage exemption. If you escrow your mortgage with your taxes and do not receive a tax statement, you can find out by visiting the Auditor's Office.
2. Look into special loan programs with your local financial institutions.
Some banks are running short-term loan specials that will aid people who have been hit hard by the reassessment.
3. Consider using the equity in your home to pay your taxes.
Home equity lines of credit are a popular and low cost source of funds for many consumers. Rates as low as 4 percent with no closing costs are available.